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Vinson Massif: Team Descends to Base Camp

This morning at high camp it was still sunny, but there was a persistent breeze which was on its way to becoming wind.  Packing up was surprisingly difficult in this wind, we had to keep rewarming hands while breaking down tents, strapping on crampons, and threading climbing harnesses. We got out of there around 12:15 PM and made good time down to the fixed ropes.  As expected, there was less wind on the steep mountainside but our descent was difficult for all of the normal reasons.  Big packs, slippery snow and steep angles for long distances. 

Life got a whole lot easier once we reached low camp, but by then we could see wind whipped cloud caps on all the summits again.  It appeared as though we’d just used up all of the decent climbing weather and that we’d ducked down in the nick of time.  We did a big shuffle of gear at low camp to switch over to sled-hauling once again.  We then got going toward basecamp.  The last of our big views were enjoyed at the big 90 degree westward turn of the Branscomb, then we plunged into cold and dense fog.  We hit base camp at 6:30 PM and built another camp since it was obvious that airplanes wouldn’t come fetch us in the current conditions.  The first of what may be several victory dinners was held in our POSH tent.  Quesadillas and cheese burgers, cooked to perfection, made life in the cloud just a little bit warmer and more hospitable.

Best Regards

RMI Guide Dave Hahn


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